Today I went to a Maggies centre for the first time.
Less than a year ago, Maggies opened a new centre at St. Barts Hospital, London. This just happens to be a stone’s throw from my office, so I decided to pop over in my lunch hour to find out more about Maggies and what they do.
After spending a lovely hour sitting in the sunshine on the roof terrace, sipping tea and chatting to the lovely Phoebe (we could have been anywhere other than at a cancer centre in the middle of the City of London) I dragged myself back to the office.
And now, I would like to tell you why Maggies is so great and why you, your husband, your wife, your children or your parents should find out if there is a Maggies nearby so that you can benefit from their services:
- Walking into Maggies is not at all like walking into a cancer support centre. The building at St.Barts has been beautifully designed so that you can’t see the surrounding hospital buildings. The interior is minimally decorated so you feel as if you have stepped into an art gallery or small Soho design agency. It certainly doesn’t shout “cancer centre” at you like some places, but rather it whispers “hello, welcome to our very calm and lovely safe space”. You feel safe, comfortable and immediately at ease. And apparently all their centres are similarly designed – which allows anyone visiting the centre to escape the cancer hospital feel that is typical of a lot of cancer support centres.
- As you walk in, one of the amazing volunteers comes to greet you. This is not off-putting or intrusive in any way. They don’t jump upon you as soon as you walk in, but they approach when it is clear you don’t know where you are going or what you are doing there.
- Buzz approached me and made me a cup of tea as we had a little chat about why I had popped into the centre. She couldn’t have been more welcoming. Everyone is welcome, new visitors and regular visitors are equally welcome.
- You can just drop into a Maggies centre. You don’t have to have an appointment or be attending a group session or one of their activities or courses. You can just turn up, have a cup of tea and chat with a volunteer, or sit on your own for some alone time in a safe space. You can even take your lunch or take a book.
- Maggies put on group sessions – support group chat sessions made up of others in a similar position to yourself. If this is something you’d like to try then give them a call to find out more – and if you change your mind, you are under no obligation to continue.
- They put on a range of classes, workshops and events – all aimed at helping the cancer patient and their families. For example, I noticed that a yoga session was due to take place later today at Maggies St.Barts. Check out their website for details of events that you might like to attend because some of these classes, workshops and events may require booking in advance.
- They also hold drop-in sessions every day – when you can pop in for advice on a certain aspect of life with cancer: for example the drop sessions today were on benefits advice and psychologist support.
- Maggies is not just for someone with cancer. Maggies provides support to the family members of those with cancer: children, husbands, wives, partners and parents. So, whilst you may not feel like talking to someone or going to a support group, one of your close family members might benefit from it, so it is worth having that discussion at home.
All in all, Maggies provides such a lovely, warm place to seek support or some valuable alone alone time.